Agenda and minutes

Governance and Audit Committee - Monday, 30th January, 2023 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Council Offices, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ

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No. Item


Apologies for absence

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    Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Kaffy Rice-Oxley, Ian Stokes and Murray Turner.


    Councillor Mark Whittington substituted for Councillor Kaffy Rice-Oxley and Councillor Philip Knowles substituted for Councillor Murray Turner.




Disclosure of interests

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    Members are asked to disclose any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.

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    No interests were disclosed.


    As a substitute on the Committee, Councillor Whittington clarified that he would not take part in any debate that covered his portfolio as Cabinet Member for Waste Services and Climate Change.


Minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2022 pdf icon PDF 184 KB

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    The minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2022 were proposed, seconded and agreed as a correct record.


Updates from previous meeting pdf icon PDF 30 KB

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    To consider updates on Actions agreed at the meeting held on 30 November 2022.

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    The Chairman informed Members that the action sheet from the meeting held on 30 November 2022 within the agenda confirmed that an amended audit annual report was sent by email to Members of the Committee on 1 December 2022 and had been published online.



Appointment of External Auditors pdf icon PDF 174 KB

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    To inform committee of the outcome of the Public Sector Audit Appointment procurement process.


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    The Council currently utilised Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) for the procurement of external audit services.  On 3 March 2022 Full Council approved that the Council should opt into the PSAA national procurement scheme for the provision of external audit services for the period commencing April 2023.  On 17 October 2022 the PSAA informed the Council that KPMG LLG would be the appointed external auditor for the period 2023/24 to 2027/28 subject to consultation. 


    Confirmation had now been received that KPMG LLP had been formally appointed as the Council’s external auditors and was approved by the PSAA Board at its meeting on 16 December 2022. The audit of the 2023/23 Statement of Accounts was to be completed by Grant Thornton so the Governance and Audit Committee would continue to receive reports from the Council’s current external auditors during 2023/24 before having moved to KPMG’s control.


    The Chief Finance Officer informed Members that details in terms of personnel and representation at future Governance and Audit Committees had yet to be confirmed.  The participation as part of a Lincolnshire Group was considered beneficial to the Council as it provided opportunities for a more collaborative way of working.


    The Chairman clarified that the appointment was for a term of five years and stated that KPMG were well-known nationwide.


    It was proposed, seconded, and AGREED;


    That the Governance and Audit Committee:


    a)    Noted that KPMG LLP will be the Council’s external auditors for the period 2023/24 to 2027/28 following the completion of the Public Sector Audit Appointments procurement.


Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 191 KB

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    This Council is required by regulations issued under the Local Government Act 2003 to produce a Treasury Management Statement for each financial year.  The draft Statement meets the requirements of the CIPFA Code of Practice on Treasury Management (the Code) and the Prudential Code.


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    The report was presented to Committee by the Chief Finance Officer.


    The CIPFA Code of Practice for Treasury Management in the Public Services (the “CIPFA Treasury Management Code”) and the CIPFA Prudential Code required local authorities to produce a Treasury Management Strategy Statement (TMSS) on an annual basis.   The TMSS detailed the investment and borrowing policies that the Council were to follow during 2023/24.  The CIPFA code and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) statutory guidance also required the Council to have a policy on non-treasury investments which was included in the Capital Strategy which was to be approved by Council on 1 March 2023. 


    The TMSS set out the counterparties that the Council would invest with and the limits that would be invested with each counterparty.  CIPFA published a revised Treasury Management Code and a revised Prudential Code on 20 December 2021 and stated that revisions needed to be included from the 2023/24 financial year.  The Council was required to reflect the changes to the new Codes of Practice when it prepared the Treasury Management Strategy Statement (TMSS) and Annual Investment Strategy (AIS) reports and also related reports during the financial year.


    The revised Treasury Management Code required all investments and investment income to be attributed to one of the following purposes:


       Treasury Management – investments held for cash purposes

       Service Delivery – Housing new builds and local infrastructure

       Investment in assets and facilities to deliver a commercial return to the Council


    The revised Treasury Management Code required the Council to implement the following:


       Adopt a new liability benchmark treasury indicator to support the financing risk management of the capital financing requirements.

       Long-term treasury investments, (including pooled funds were to be classed as commercial investments unless justified by a cash flow business case

        Pooled funds were to be included in the indicator for principal sums maturing in years beyond the initial budget year

         Amendment to the knowledge and skills register for officers and members involved in the treasury management function – to be proportionate to the size and complexity of the treasury management conducted by each authority

       Reporting to members was to be undertaken quarterly

       Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues to be addressed within the Council’s treasury management policies and practices (TMP1).


    The Chief Finance Officer informed Members that some of the balances and financial levels referenced  within the appendices may differ slightly when the final budget was set but were based on the best budget estimates at the time of compiling the strategy.


    During discussion, Members raised the following points:


    ·            In reference to loans to Local Authority-owned companies (LAC), the Strategy  confirmed that business plans had to be ‘clear and robust’ and to have demonstrated the affordability of the investment for the LAC.  A Member asked under what terms the Council gave a loan of £571,000 to EnvironmentSK Ltd when there was no clear business plan.


    ·            As the borrowing rate of the Public Works Loan  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Short Scrutiny Improvement Review pdf icon PDF 185 KB

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    To provide the Governance and Audit Committee with an opportunity to consider an updated Action Plan in response to the Short Scrutiny Improvement Review undertaken by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny.


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    The report was presented to the Committee by Councillor Linda Wootten, Cabinet Member for Corporate Governance and Licensing.


    In 2021 the Council commissioned the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny to undertake an evaluation of its scrutiny function to check and test that scrutiny arrangements met the Council’s high expectations of democratic accountability and that decision-making and overview and scrutiny was transparent, effective and impactful.


    The Governance and Audit Committee considered an initial draft of an action plan in response to the recommendations of the review at its meeting on 28 September 2022.  It was agreed at that meeting that further work needed to be undertaken on the action plan and that this should be informed by a Councillor workshop.


    The workshop was held on 30 November 2022 and was open to the public and a number of public attendees took the opportunity to submit their views and comments after the workshop in respect of the Scrutiny Review.  In re-considering the recommendations of the review, taking into account the comments received at the workshop and the written submissions from members of the public, a revised action plan had been developed by the Cabinet Member for Corporate Governance and Licensing.


    The Action Plan also set out progress made to date in respect of each recommendation since receipt of the final report by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny.  The Governance and Audit Committee was invited to consider the content of the findings of the review, the outcomes of the workshop and the revised action plan.


    The Cabinet Member clarified that she agreed with the vast majority of recommendations and this had been indicated within the revised plan.  A lot of discussion, thought and planning had gone into the revised plan.  There were to be some changes in the way the Council worked regarding scrutiny.  In particular, there was to be more involvement with the Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen in forward planning for meetings and early scrutiny for future development.  Committee Chairmen were expected to attend Cabinet meetings to put forward subjects for future discussion and present recommendations from their respective Committee.  Other changes included:


    ·                              Proposed revisions to the Council’s committee structure.

    ·                              More opportunities throughout the year for the Leader and Deputy to be held to account in respect of delivery against the Corporate Plan.

    ·                              Proposed amendments to the Constitution in respect of considering the Council’s budget



    During discussion, Members raised the following points:


    ·            What was the timescale for completion of the action plan?

    ·            The review was seen as important and the detail of the work undertaken was acknowledged by the Chairman.  The recent workshop was found to be very useful.

    ·            A Member asked why the Cabinet Member for Corporate Governance and Licensing did not agree with recommendation 9 – ‘considered changing the process for the appointment if scrutiny committee chairmen’.

    Some Members welcomed the report, although some expressed they did not consider it a positive report.  Some expressed disagreement regarding recommendation 9 and felt the current process of appointing Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Internal Audit Progress Report pdf icon PDF 376 KB

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    This report provides an update on progress against the internal audit plan and summarises the results of our work.


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    The purpose of this report was to provide details of the audit work during the period 1 December 2022 to 20 January 2023, advise on progress of the 2022/23 plan and raise any other matters that may be relevant to the Governance & Audit Committee role.  Since the last update report presented to the Governance & Audit Committee in December 2022, the Auditors completed the following audits:


    Programme Management

    Housing Voids


    The Chief Finance Officer clarified that in the absence of the Assurance Lincolnshire Auditors, the report was to be deferred to the next meeting if Members were in agreement.  As Housing Management staff were present, it was considered appropriate that their comments on the report findings be heard.


    It was proposed, seconded, and AGREED that the Internal Audit Progress Report be heard at the 15 March meeting.


    The Acting Director for Housing confirmed that the overall assurance finding of ‘limited’ was disappointing and down to a number of extenuating factors, including staffing levels, contracts and resources experienced over the last 8/9 months.  The new Housing Management system, scheduled to be implemented in April 2023 was a positive way forward.


    Action 1 referred to loss of revenue around delays in turnaround times for void properties.  Not all Voids had been inspected within two days of vacancy.  Pre-inspection determined some of these were found to be major works properties.  Some properties were prioritised over others having been identified as quick turnaround properties under 20 days.  The Housing Management System had an extensive live reporting facility that enabled a more efficient and responsive process.


    Action 2 referred to the ineffective management of empty properties.  Data-led processes were to enhance the information recorded such as asbestos reports, to streamline the process.


    Action 3 referred to post-inspections and the insufficient use of data, expected to improve under the new management system.  A Voids Contract Manager was a new post to monitor the data reports and reduce turnaround times.


    Action 4 referred to accuracies within data reporting and maintaining KPIs.  Service planning was to commence in early February 2023 to identify benchmarking and best practice processes.  Better performance reporting commentary was found to be required and the Council was committed to this as part of the continuation of improvement.


    Action 5 referred to the instalment of regular monthly void meetings and review of housing risk registers.  A number of risks had been identified as staffing, contractor resources and supply chain issues.  Service planning was to monitor these risks.


    During discussion, Members raised the following points:


    ·       The current 60-day turnaround target for completion of Void properties did not seem challenging enough and it was considered disappointing that the target was not currently being met.

    ·       Was the Housing Management confident that with the new staff structure in place, the situation would improve?

    ·       The hard work of the staff, in difficult circumstances were acknowledged.  The Acting Housing Director was thanked for overseeing the completion of the lift repairs at Meadow Court in Bourne.

    ·       What effect would the new Housing Management  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Safeguarding Annual Report 2021-2022 pdf icon PDF 148 KB

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    In accordance with Article 10 (Regulatory Framework – xxiii) of the Constitution, this report presents to the Governance and Audit Committee the Annual Report on Safeguarding. The report provides an overview of the Council’s involvement in the safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults for 2021/2022. 



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    The Community Engagement Officer presented the report.


    The report provided a background to the Council’s safeguarding responsibilities; mandatory training and development opportunities and the uptake by officers and elected Members.  329 training modules had been completed during 2021/22.  This was 288 by Officers and 71 by Members.



    The report also outlined the safeguarding interventions undertaken in 2021/2022, including short case studies to provide a background to some of the interactions between residents and officers.  Also included was background to, and the outcome of, the Council’s submission to the Lincolnshire Assessment and Assurance Framework (LAAF) required by the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board under our collective responsibilities relating to the Care Act 2014 to safeguard vulnerable adults. 


    In general, our responsibilities were to report incidents or concerns to the responsible authority (Lincolnshire County Council) and to work with other agencies to ensure the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.  The Safeguarding Annual Report reflected these duties and highlighted how safeguarding was a Council-wide responsibility.


    During discussion, Members raised the following points:


    ·            Members should be encouraged and reminded to take the training offered as only 17 Members had completed it and it didn’t reflect well on them.

    ·            Is the training to be completed every year?


    The Community Engagement Officer confirmed that two training modules were s to be completed within the first year of a Councillor’s term in office and then one other module each year during the four-year term.


    The Monitoring Officer informed Members that training will be completed as part of the induction programme in May.


    ACTION 1:


    That the Monitoring Officer will ensure a reminder was circulated to all Members to complete any training necessary.


    It was proposed, seconded, and AGREED:


    That the Governance and Audit Committee:


    a)         reviewed the 2021/2022 Safeguarding Annual Report and noted its contents.




Work Programme 2022 - 2023 pdf icon PDF 82 KB

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    To consider the Committee’s Work Programme for 2022 – 2023.

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    The Committee considered the Work Programme for 2022 – 2023.


    The Chief Finance Officer informed that the report on the review of terms of reference was to be deferred to the next municipal year.


    The Internal Audit Progress Report was deferred to the meeting on 15 March 2023.


Any other business, which the chairman, by reasons of special circumstances, decides is urgent.

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    There were no other items of business.


Close of Meeting

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    The Chairman closed the meeting at 15:47.